Make no mistake; the Cincinnati Bearcats should have won against Oklahoma on Saturday night. However, while the scoreboard only showed a two-point difference, several costly mistakes killed the Bearcats from earning a victory. Still, this was the first real signs of life shown by the Bearcats since the early going of the Fresno State game.
Just over a week ago, we called the Bearcats a Missing BCS Football team. Saturday night Butch Jones and his staff made a few changes and placed the Bearcats in a position to compete, and win over an Oklahoma team many feel will battle for a Big 12 title.
The Bearcats three lost fumbles made the difference in this game, however, the Bearcats got solid play from their offensive line, quarterback, and defense that battled for 94 Oklahoma offensive plays.
Linebackers J.K. Schaffer and Maalik Bomar continue to be the heart of the Bearcats defense with Dan Giordano continuing to raise the level of his play. There were still broken coverage's as the Bearcats closed down Oklahoma's run offense forcing them to attack through the air.
Butch Jones praised his team's senior leadership, but a lot of credit must go to Jones who looked to be struggling to get the Bearcats to play at the level they have the past two seasons.
"What I saw tonight was leadership step up. Leadership from some of our seniors. I thought they came out tonight and fought against a very good football team."
While Jones knows moral victories are not counted, he feels for the kids who stepped up and delivered an outstanding performance Saturday night only to come up short.
"It was business as usually. It was preparing your team both mentally and physically. You don't pay attention to anything outside. I just can't say enough about our kids tonight. You have a locker room that has individuals that are hurt right now and they should hurt but I think you saw a lot tonight."
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops knows he was lucky to have his team leave the Queen City with a victory.
It was really hard fought tonight. We had some definite good fortune at the end of the game to give us the opportunity to win."
While the game is promising for the Bearcats, there is still work needed as the Bearcats gave up three more sacks on offense. However, the style of play, and overall execution were much improved. The Bearcats will take a week off and then get ready to battle for the Victory Bell before heading into Big East play.